The question is whether Forest City Ratner's clarification is credible.
FCR released a clarification.
“When I referred to the project taking 15 years to build I was referring to the total time, from the idea or conception of the development to completion of the final building,” he said in the statement. “The actual construction of Atlantic Yards will take 10 years and, as we have announced, preliminary work on the site has begun.”
He also said the arena would open by the 2009-10 NBA season. The 2010 remark referred to the entire block of office and residential space, he said.
Arena in 2010
The direct exchange regarding the arena, between executive Bob O'Brien and Ratner, included:
BO: ...the current timeline is to have the ball team open in 10-11?
That doesn't sound like they were talking about the entire block (though, yes, it is supposed to be open in 2010).
As for the timeline, Chuck Ratner said: this is going to be a 15-year buildout...
When others use the term "buildout," it does not refer to the "idea or conception of the development." For example, a press release from the Empire State Development Corporation on 12/8/06 stated:
The project build out will occur in two phases. The first phase, anticipated to be completed by 2010, will include the new rail yard and the arena and developments on the western portion of the site. At least 30 percent of the housing developed on the arena block in the first phase will be affordable housing. The arena is expected to be in use for approximately 225 events per year (inclusive of 41 home games for the Nets.) The second phase of the Project is scheduled to be completed by 2016.
The use of the future tense regarding "build out" suggests that it does not include the "idea or conception of the development."
Remember that Chuck Ratner also said:
We are terrible, and we’ve been a developer for 50 years, on these big multi-use, public private urban developments, to be able to predict when it will go from idea to reality.